What is Minimum Wage – Check State By State Wage Laws

It doesn’t get a lot of attention, but we’re all protected by minimum wage at one point or the other. Whether it’s a cashier job in the fast-food industry, an attendant at a shopping mall, or even a theater ticket counter, the minimum wage laws ensure that we’re paid a, if not great, somewhat acceptable rate.

There’s a lengthy, slightly confusing definition on Google. Still, we prefer the simple, easy-to-understand one: minimum wage is the lowest that an employee or worker may be paid, as specified and backed by federal law.

It’s a floor on hourly wages that applies to all non-exempt workers, and under federal law, it’s illegal to offer jobs with pay scales below minimum wage. Check here Minimum Wage In California.

How Much Is the Minimum Wage?

$7.25, nationwide, for all workers who aren’t exempt from the minimum wage laws, and $.13 per hour for tipped employees like waiters, servers, and others. If you were looking for a straight answer, well, there it is.

In reality, though, there’s a little more nuance regarding minimum wage laws. In addition to the national minimum wage, states have their minimum wage. In most cases, though, employees are qualified for the higher standard, whether the state or the national minimum wage.

Several states have higher minimum wages than the national standard, like Columbia ($15.00), Rhode Island (10.50), and Delaware ($9.25).

Read Also: Learn More About Salary Vs Wage.

Who Earns the Minimum Wage?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) set the national minimum wage at $7.25 back in 2009. Several groups, though, are exempt from the minimum wage laws. Many of these are tipped employees, who can be paid wages of $2.13 per hour given they regularly receive above $30 in tips.

Students and workers also fall into this category and start at lower minimum wage until they pass a probationary period or graduate.

What is the Federal Minimum Wage?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) set the federal minimum wage in 2009 at $7.25 for employees and $2.13 for tipped workers. While this certainly does provide a barrier against employee exploitation, there’s a glaring problem with the concept of minimum wage.

The government is supposed to regularly evaluate the cost of living and inflation in the US and adjust the minimum wage accordingly.

However, minimum wage rates have seen no increases since 2009, which is one of the most significant reasons several states have higher minimum wage rates than what is mandated by federal law.

What’s the Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers?

It gets a little more complicated when it comes to tipped workers. Employees can be exempt from the federal minimum wage if most of their income is derived from tips made by customers.

In this case, a minimum wage of $2.13 applies to these tipped workers, but only if a specific set of circumstances are met.

Firstly, a tipped employee can only be paid a minimum wage of $2.13 per hour if they regularly receive more than $30 in tips. This is the more commonly accepted rule since it provides these tipped employees with the beginnings of an income.

A minimum wage of $2.13 also applies to employees if their tips and wages combined to meet the federal standard of $7.25 per hour.

Which State Has the Highest Minimum Wage?

Most states have a different wage rate than the federal standard. A large number, like Idaho, Utah, Nebraska, and many others, have wage rates lower than $7.25, in which case employees are qualified for the higher federal standard.

Several states, though, have higher minimum wages than the federal minimum. Arizona and Colorado both have minimum wages of $12.15 and $12.32, respectively, putting them pretty high up on the list. Massachusetts and Washington are slightly higher on the list, standing at $13.5 and $13.69 per hour, respectively.

Currently, California holds the crown for the state with the highest minimum wage, of $14.00 per hour for non-exempt employees. This applies to businesses with 26 or more employees, with minimum wage for companies with 25 or fewer employees being $13.00 per hour.

Read Also: Would you like to know about Six figure Salary, check here.

Which State Has the Lowest Minimum Wage?

Currently, about 15 states have minimum wages lower than the federal rate:

  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Georgia and Wyoming have the lowest minimum wages of $5.15 per hour for non-exempt employees. We’ve said it before, but we’ll repeat it for you guys: when an employee is subject to both the federal minimum wage and the state minimum wage, they qualify for whichever standard is higher.

This means that employees working in states with minimum wages below $7.25 qualify for the federal standard. For Georgia and Wyoming, employers that fall under the FLSA must pay their employees a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and $2.13 per hour for tipped workers.

Why Was Minimum Wage Created?

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first President to introduce the idea of minimum wage as part of his New Deal reforms and changes and set the minimum wage at $0.25 per hour in 1938. It’s undeniable that FDR made many contributions to the early infrastructure of the US.

Still, today, minimum wage might be his most memorable legacy, as it has been protecting employees, tipped workers, student workers, and laborers from being exploited by their employers for close to a hundred years now.

The idea behind minimum wage was that any place of employment must provide at least living wages for their employees. Living wages means money for food, clothes, shelter, and a little extra for other expenses.

Presently, you’ll find a lot of complaints about minimum wage. The most significant problem with the federal minimum wage is that it hasn’t kept pace with the rising costs and inflation everywhere or with the dollar’s fall in value recently.

While it’s always been hard to raise a family on minimum wage, $7.25 per hour quickly proves to be not enough for a single person.

It’s not all bad news, though. There are many changes to state minimum wages slated for 2022, with many states adopting or moving closer to the target of $15.00 per hour.

Many people even don’t know if they are making good money or not, you can read a dedicated article on what is considered a good salary by just visiting here at https://lowearnings.com/salary/what-is-a-good-salary/.

When Was Minimum Wage Last Raised?

The last time minimum wage was raised was back in 2009. On July 24th, 2009, Congress raised the minimum wage from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour. While this was undoubtedly a welcome change, it wasn’t enough for many people.

Democrats, in particular, have been long proponents of an increase in the minimum wage, and in 2014, then-President Barack Obama pushed for an increase to $10.10 per hour.

This was followed by an executive order directing government contractors to comply with the newly raised minimum wage.

Raising the federal minimum wage comes with problems of its own. Small businesses will be forced to lay off workers if the recent calls for an increase to $15.00 per hour by 2025 to keep their costs in check.

Still, the 15.00 minimum wage has found support among many people, the most noticeable being President Joe Biden, who made it a priority during election season.

While legal directives like the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 and a House of Representatives bill are met with opposition in Congress, President Biden issued an executive order that raises the minimum wage for contracted workers to $15.00 per hour.

Check Statewise Minimum Wages

  • Alabama

  • Alaska

  • Arizona

  • Arkansas

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • Florida

  • Georgia

  • Hawaii

  • Idaho

  • Illinois

  • Indiana

  • Iowa

  • Kansas

  • Kentucky

  • Louisiana

  • Maine

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • Michigan

  • Minnesota

  • Mississippi

  • Missouri

  • Montana

  • Nebraska

  • Nevada

  • New Hampshire

  • New Jersey

  • New Mexico

  • New York

  • North Carolina

  • North Dakota

  • Ohio

  • Oklahoma

  • Oregon

  • Pennsylvania

  • Rhode Island

  • South Carolina

  • South Dakota

  • Tennessee

  • Texas

  • Utah

  • Vermont

  • Virginia

  • Washington

  • West Virginia

  • Wisconsin

  • Wyoming

Frequently Asked Questions

We put a lot of work into this research, but we understand that you don’t want to read a paragraph to know what minimum wage is in your state. Below, you’ll find a FAQ section outlining just about everything you could want to know about minimum wage, along with some questions that we found were common to the topic.

1.   What is the minimum wage per hour?

It depends on the state you’re living in. If your state’s minimum wage is below the federal standard, you’ll qualify for the $7.25 for employees and $2.13 (plus tips) for tipped workers(More about FLSA). Alternatively, if your state’s minimum wage is higher, you’ll qualify for that instead.

We skipped that one since there’s already a list of states below the federal standard above. Currently, states with minimum wages from $8.00 to $10.00 are:

  • Florida- $8.65/hour
  • Montana- $8.75/hour
  • West Virginia- $8.75/hour
  • Ohio- $8.8/hour
  • Nevada- $9/hour
  • Nebraska- $9/hour
  • Delaware- $9.25/hour
  • South Dakota- $9.45/hour
  • Michigan- $9.65/hour

States with higher minimum wages between $10.00 to $14.00 are:

  • Hawaii- $10.1/hour
  • Missouri- $10.3/hour
  • Minnesota- $10.08/hour
  • Alaska- $10.34/hour
  • New Mexico- $10.5/hour
  • Arkansas- $11/hour
  • Illinois- $11/hour
  • Rhode Island- $11.5/hour
  • Maryland- $11.75/hour
  • Vermont- $11.75/hour
  • Oregon- $12/hour
  • Colorado- $12.32/hour
  • Arizona- $12.15/hour
  • Maine- $12.15/hour
  • Massachusetts- $13.5/hour
  • Washington- $13.69/hour
  • California- $14/hour

2.   What is the difference between local state and federal minimum wage?

We’ve already talked about state and federal minimum wages. The federal standard, which is $7.25, is the standard applied all over the country. After that, state minimum wage comes into play, with employees qualifying for whichever standard is higher.

For example, while the federal standard is $7.25, workers in California are paid a minimum wage of $14/hour, which is the state minimum wage.

After state minimum wage, some cities have minimum wage standards of their own. Illinois has a minimum wage of $10, but workers in Chicago are paid a minimum salary of $14 instead, which is the city’s set minimum wage.

A list of whichever minimum wage you qualify for is but a Google search away. Look up your state’s and your city’s minimum wage before applying for a job!

3.   May an employee agree to work for less than the minimum wage?

Like most things, the answer depends on several factors. If you don’t qualify for one of the exemptions to minimum wage, like being a student, tipped worker, or other circumstance, you’re legally entitled to be paid minimum wage.

An employer could face serious action for employing workers under minimum wage. So if you want a straight answer, well.

Yes, you can, but we doubt you’ll need or want to.

4.   Is the minimum wage, same for both adult and minor employees?

No, it is not. Workers under 20 are one of the various exemptions to the minimum wage laws. For your first 90 days on the job (roughly three months), your employer can pay you a minimum wage of $4.24 per hour. After this probationary period is over, you’re entitled to be paid minimum wage.

5.   What can I do if my employer does not pay me at least the minimum wage?

Kudos for looking it up, it’s the first step to getting what you’re entitled to. And surprisingly, there’s quite a lot you can do if your employer isn’t paying you minimum wage.

The first step, of course, is to make sure that you’re not one of the exemptions, like a tipped worker, under the age of 20, an independent contractor, or some other condition. Tell your employer that you deserve minimum wage if you qualify for it.

We doubt that will work, though, so the immediate next step would be filing a complaint with your state’s labor board. According to the minimum wage law, you’re entitled to back pay- the amount you would have earned if you were being paid.

6.   What is the federal under 18 minimum wage?

$4.25 until you pass a three-month probationary period. Then you’re entitled to either the federal standard of $7.25 or your state’s minimum wage, whichever is higher.

7.   What can I do if my employer is breaking minimum wage law?

Get advice from somebody with expertise in the minimum wage, preferably an attorney or a lawyer. If you have months of back pay, file a complaint with your state’s labor department.

We will warn you, though, that if your employer refuses to pay you the amount you deserve, you will have to sue them, which costs money to follow through with.

8.   What are the limitations for students or teenagers for minimum wage law?

Students working for a retail store, service establishment, or university can’t be paid less than 85% of federal minimum wage by their employer.

While students can have eight-hour workdays like adults, they aren’t allowed to work more than 20 hours per week when school is in session. Teenagers under 20, on the other hand, have a short probationary period of 3 months before they’re entitled to full minimum wage.

Conclusion :

Minimum wage laws are mainly designed to prevent employee exploitation and ensure that the country’s working population can earn enough to provide for themselves.

While the idea of raising the minimum wage to match inflation and living costs sounds fine, critics point out there are several problems with the concept.

For one, if the federal lowest wage is raised to $15, a study says one-third of small businesses will be forced to lay off employers. With the quality of technology improving every day, increasing unemployment among unskilled labor might be the last thing the US needs.